Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Basia: It's That Girl Again

Back in the 80s, when our band used to play one of the music halls along Annapolis St., we would open our first set with a Matt Bianco crowd favorite, HALF A MINUTE. It was easy to see why the regulars at the lounge liked it--the song was a novel treat; through it, the U.K. band had successfully redefined the pop jazz sound with its contemporary take on samba, and had showcased one of the most distinctive voices the music world was to hear--an intriguing voice that came with an equally intriguing name: Basia Trzetrzelewska.

Her English wasn't perfect and her tone was almost reedy. But like an oboe in a sea of richer, fuller timbres, she stood out gracefully especially with her signature multi-layered harmonies. Soon enough, Basia was a star on her own, recording a successful string of hits through her first two solo albums: TIME AND TIDE and LONDON WARSAW NEW YORK in 1987 and 1989, respectively. Five years later, she churned out THE SWEETEST ILLUSION, which although was not as applauded as her initial projects, remained true to her Latin-laced vibe and rich rhythms. It is still among my all-time favorites.

However, the period that followed seemed to reflect some serious drought. A live project and three compilations followed, but sorely missing was a studio album, which fans like I were seeking. You can therefore imagine my glee when I discovered and secured her newest CD launched earlier this year, 15 years after her last studio album.

Titled IT'S THAT GIRL AGAIN, the CD is indeed a comeback. It is a return of that same voice, vocal style, and distinct musicality. At 54 (Basia turns 55 on September 30), the artist sounds as fresh and vibrant as she did on TIME AND TIDE, and yet her music somehow feels the same. The experience of listening to her CD is thus most comforting. Will the new tracks climb the charts in the same way that PROMISES, NEW DAY FOR YOU, and CRUISING FOR BRUISING did? Perhaps not. We have a new set of ears listening these days. But old fogeys like me will be most happy.

But what makes me happier is that Basia will be in Manila on October 21, 8:30 pm, at the Araneta Coliseum for a one-night performance. Apart from singing her popular favorites, the artist is expected to give us a sampling of her latest tracks (I'm guessing the album will finally be available in Manila by then). And while I have a difficulty choosing my personal favorite, I am predicting that the one I'm posting here will have a pretty good following. Here's A GIFT.

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